Reaffirmation of a college or university’s accreditation is a process required every 10 years by most accrediting agencies to remain an accredited learning facility. For Alabama State University, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires that all colleges located in the Southeast comply with all 14 sections of the Core Requirements and Standards of the Principles of Accreditation. Although this may be a laborious and painstaking accomplishment, should it really be treated as such?
Eating, drinking, sleeping and breathing are all common functionalities that most people can do. However, you do not see an individual being applauded or recognized for such basic actions, and I believe the university should be held to that same standard. Why is it that a university that should inherently have high-quality and state-of-the-art educational programs, student life, and resources publicize a process that should be standard?
While deep diving and scouring the internet for articles pertaining to accreditation at various other universities, I found that their news on reaccreditation was very short and concise. Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) such as the University of South Alabama and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) such as Howard University and Hampton University rarely treat the news as a celebration with cake, confetti and applause, but more of an acknowledgment of continuous success.
We have five other universities and one college in this city, and since I have been here, I have never seen any of them make the news for their reaffirmation. In fact, there were no other news articles on the internet announcing their reaffirmation. For many people, as well as students alike, it is a foregone conclusion that the university has been reaffirmed and they go forward delivering quality programs for students.
According to Sacscoc.org, accreditation is awarded to an institution of higher education that has (1) a mission appropriate to higher education, (2) resources, programs, and services sufficient to accomplish and sustain its mission, (3) clearly specified educational objectives that are consistent with its mission and appropriate to the degrees it offers, and that it is (4) successful in assessing its achievement of these objectives and demonstrating improvements. Accreditation by SACSCOC is a statement of the institution’s continuing commitment to quality and integrity as well as its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.
Since 1970, (50 years) the university has been accredited by the SACSCOC, so what changed in the 10-year time span from 2010-2020 that made this reaccreditation so newsworthy? ASU has been under the leadership of William H. Harris, Ph.D., Joseph H. Silver Sr., Ph.D., Gwendolyn Boyd, D.M., and now Quinton T. Ross Jr., Ed.D., for those 10-years. Each was inaugurated in office to create and maintain tremendous effort to keep the university afloat. If each were successful in their diligence, no institution should be that excited for reaffirmation if they are doing what they are supposed to be constantly doing. Awards and recognition are meant for remarkable achievements, not everyday functions.
Calling a press conference and having billboards scattered all over the Montgomery area just to inform people that your accreditation is reaffirmed is a bit much. Now, if the university did not meet the requirements and standards needed to be accredited, that would have warranted a news conference as everyone who recently graduated and is in the process of graduating would have to relocate to an accredited institution – similar to what happened to Morris Brown College.
Calling a press conference and placing billboards over the city prompted people to question our accreditation. Had we not placed it in the news, people would have assumed that we were accredited and reaffirmed already.
All-in-all, I am happy that the university that will soon become my alma mater is accredited for 10 more years, which means my degree holds value in the workplace. However, instead of celebrating reaffirmation, which should be a normal standard, highlight and expound upon the various other things on campus that warrant attention and praise from the administration.